I originally was going to write in regards to Karen Berger leaving DC as the head of comics imprint Vertigo and the effect that she has had on the comics world and pop culture in general. I will be writing that, but it will have to wait. The world has taken a dangerous step toward a dark and unenlightened age and I need to pause for a moment and express my views on the matter.
For those who are not aware there has been an ongoing controversy over the fact that in the Greenville, SC Public Library a young girl, age fourteen was allowed to take out of the library a copy of Alan Moore’s NEONOMICON. This is a very disturbing and graphic comic which is based on the work of HP Lovecraft.
Now normally I would agree that allowing a minor to have access to this work would be a poor idea, but the problem arises that it was not a mistake by the library staff, not a failure on their part to understand the material that the book contained that allowed it into the hands of a child. They were aware of the book, and Alan Moore’s work in general, is intended for a mature audience. Some of Alan Moore’s works, such as V for Vendetta, From Hell, Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, had to be toned down in order to be made into films.
The reason the girl was allowed to check out a book, that had been placed in the restricted to adult section of the library, was because she had library card allowing access to the adult section of the library. A Library card that she needed her mother to agree to let her have. The same mother who when she discovered the mature content of the book, complained to the library and the governing body of the Greenville Public Library system demanding it be removed.
The work in question is considered to be one of the top piece by one of the biggest names in the industry and in fact was given the very first Bram Stoker Award in the graphic novel category. But despite that, and the fact that Review Council for the Library system itself voted to retain the work, the Executive Director of the Library System, Beverly James took it on herself to remove the book from the library.
I am not sure which offends me more, a mother who feels the need to blame anyone else for her lack of supervision of her child, or a politician who decides they are allowed to choose what is acceptable for everyone.
If this mother was faced with the works of Stephen King, or Clive Barker would she be appalled at the graphic nature of their works, does she feel the need to prevent the entire community from being able to read of works of Nabokov because of disturbing sexual content. The easy answer is no, because her preconceived notions of what her daughter might encounter in the pages of a novel that is placed in the adult section of the library is very different from that of a graphic novel. The mother stated to the news media that the library should have put some sort of rating on the work, but fails to realize that they did in placing the book in a section for adults.
The fact that the Executive Director of the Greenville Public Library System would agree to remove a book from the adult section of the library is even more infuriating. There is no reasonable explanation to remove a book of this nature from the library since it was already classified as a book restricted to adults. This is simply a case of narrow-mindedness beating down on the freedom of expression that this country should hold dear.